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Ferguson Fire above Merced River - photo USFS

Ferguson Fire Grows By 2,500 Acres Overnight

MARIPOSA COUNTY – The Ferguson Fire continues to challenge firefighters as it pushes north across the Merced River along Highway 140 west of Yosemite National Park.

The Ferguson Fire grew more than 2,500 acres throughout the day and into the night hours Friday as the inversion layer lifted and fire activity increased in many areas of the fire’s footprint. It is now estimated at 27,129 acres with 7 percent containment.

Yesterday at about 3 p.m., the fire jumped to the north side of the Merced River at the u-bend on Highway 140 and had burned more than 2,000 acres by midnight. It spread quickly up the steep canyon walls, running northeast up into Ned’s Gulch and to the crest on Big Grizzly on the Stanislaus National Forest.

The unstable atmosphere late in the day helped the fire spot over the road and the Merced River. Both air and ground resources engaged the new fires early but were unable to make headway in the steep, rugged terrain.

Firefighters will scout out the area north of Highway 140 to find the best ground to make a stand and stop the spread of the new spot fire.

Crews continued to make progress on building line from El Portal southeast to the Wawona Road and much of the line is complete and lined with hose lays in preparation for tactical firing operations.

Along the western edge, firefighters continued to hold the line around Jerseydale and made progress mopping up some of the remaining hot spots and smoldering embers in that area and will continue to do so.

We will update with details of today’s operations after this evening’s briefing.

There are currently 2,832 personnel assigned to the incident including 204 engines, 70 crews, 41 dozers, 38 water tenders, 17 helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft as conditions allow.

There are 216 structures threatened by the Ferguson Fire, but none have been damaged or destroyed.

There have been four firefighter injuries reported. There has been one fatality on the fire.

There will be a visitation for Cal Fire Heavy Fire Equipment Operator, Braden Varney, on Sunday, July 22, from 2 to 6 p.m. at Franklin & Downs Funeral Home, 1050 McHenry Ave in Modesto. This visitation will be open to the public.

The Incident Command Post for the Ferguson Fire is now at the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park. Please be aware of heavy fire equipment moving through the area.

The fire is under Unified Command with Cal Fire, U.S. Forest Service, Yosemite National Park and the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office. Management of the fire transitioned to a Type 1 Management Team – California Team 4 on Thursday.

The Glacier Point Road inside Yosemite National Park has been closed to accommodate firefighting resources and activities at a small base camp located at the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area (formerly Badger Pass) and Bridalveil Creek Campground (which is also closed).

Though the west entrance (El Portal) to Yosemite National Park on Highway 140 is closed, the park remains open. For information on Yosemite National Park, go to nps.gov/yose or call 209-372-0200.

The Ferguson Fire started on Friday, July 13, at 8:30 p.m. The cause remains under investigation.

Smoke from the Ferguson Fire is impacting the Mariposa County Air Pollution Control District and across the region. For information specific to Mariposa County visit http://www.mariposacounty.org/index.aspx?NID=1434. For additional information on air quality you can visit the AirNow website or the air fire smoke page.

Residents can check the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s wildfire page at www.valleyair.org/wildfires for information about any current wildfires and whether they are impacting the Valley. The District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network (RAAN) provides localized air quality data from an extensive air-monitoring network which allows Valley residents to track PM at any Valley address by visiting myraan.com.

Evacuations

New today: At 9:42 a.m. the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office issued a mandatory evacuation order for Yosemite West.

Mandatory evacuations are in place for:

  • Savage Trading Post
  • Redbud Lodge
  • Cedar Lodge
  • Indian Flat Campground
  • Mariposa Pines
  • Sweetwater Ridge
  • Ferguson Ridge
  • Jerseydale including all residences on Jerseydale Road, Hites Cove Road and all side roads from Triangle Road to the end of Hites Cove Road
  • Incline Road from Clearing House to the Foresta Bridge in El Portal
  • The BLM campgrounds in Briceburg are closed until further notice
  • El Portal Trailer Park
  • Old El Portal
  • Rancheria Flat- Government Housing
  • Foresta
  • Yosemite View Lodge
  • Yosemite West

Advisories have been issued for the following locations:

  • Lushmeadows Community
  • Ponderosa Basin Community
  • Triangle Road from Jerseydale Road to Highway 49 South including all side roads
  • Darrah Road from Triangle to Sherrod Road
  • East side of Highway 49S from Darrah Road to Harris Cutoff Road – This includes Boyer Road, Woodland Area, Wass Road and Tip Top Road

These areas are NOT under a mandatory evacuation order. This is an advisement only of a potential evacuation order should conditions change.

Should these areas come under a mandatory evacuation order you will be notified via the Sheriff’s Office Emergency Alert System by text, email and a voice call, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, and door-to-door communication by Sheriff’s Office staff. At that time you will be notified of the best routes of travel to safely evacuate your residence.

The following Red Cross locations are open to assist anyone affected by wildfires:

A Red Cross Evacuation Center has been established at the New Life Christian Church located at 5089 Cole Road in Mariposa. If you have been evacuated due to the Ferguson Fire, the Sheriff’s Office asks that you please check in with the Red Cross Shelter even if you do not plan to stay there.

A second Evacuation Center has been opened to further accommodate those affected by the Ferguson Fire, located at Yosemite Valley Elementary School, 9009 Lost Arrow, in Yosemite Valley.

If you are in a Mandatory Evacuation or Advisory Area and may require assistance with evacuation transportation due to special needs or medical issues, please contact Human Services toll free at 1-833-423-0816 as soon as possible.

Planning ahead will help with a safe and timely evacuation.

Animal Evacuation Centers

Small Animal Shelter is at SPCA of Mariposa County, 5599 Highway 49 in Mariposa.

Large Animal Shelter is at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds, 5007 Fairgrounds Road in Mariposa.

Road Closures

Highway 140 is closed from the El Portal entrance gate to 14 miles north of Mariposa.

Also closed are Jerseydale Road, Hites Cove Road and all side roads from Triangle Road to the end of Hites Cove Road; River Road from Briceburg to the gate at Railroad Flat and all campground areas are closed; Hites Cove Road from Bear Clover Road to the Merced River.

Cooperating Agencies include the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office, CAL OES, California Highway Patrol, Caltrans, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, American Red Cross, National Weather Service, California Conservation Corps, BLM and additional agencies throughout the state.

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